SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Officials from Sharonville and Hamilton County are working to attract more convention business north of the city as well as Downtown.
At the same time the county is buying the Millennium Hotel to get more major conventions for the Duke Energy Center in the Central Business District, Sharonville is looking to draw mid-size events by doubling the size of its convention center.
“There’s business that we’re missing that we don’t have availability,” Executive Director Jim Downton said.
As it stands, the Sharonville Convention Center is nearly selling out its space, attracting “about 200,000 visitors a year and about 400 events,” Downton said.
So Sharonville wants to expand its exhibit space from 21,000 square feet to about 40,000 square feet, Downton said. The expansion would also add a restaurant, more bathrooms and a box office.
Downton said the county lacks a mid-sized space for conventions that are just too small for the Duke Center, and the expansion will solve that.
“Our goal is to grow those events and really transition them to the Duke so when they do outgrow the facility they can still stay in the county,” Downton said.
Sharonville and the county would split the $17 million cost, using tax dollars paid by people who stay in area hotels. The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is meant to be reinvested in the county’s convention centers.
The timing just happens to run parallel to another big TOT project, with the county and The Port looking to flip the Millennium.
Both are needed, County Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas said. The smaller convention center in Sharonville, which has $15 million impact annually, is also vital to the local economy.
“Surprisingly, everyone does not live Downtown, and we’ve been putting a lot of effort that needs to be done in the Downtown area," Dumas said.
Dumas said the two projects don’t compete, they complement each other.
“They want to have a choice, and choice is always good," the commissioner said.
Sharonville hopes to have all the funding approved between the city and county soon and have construction plans finalized by the end of the year.
The goal is to start work on the building next summer, and wrap by summer 2021.